by Michael DeLaney
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Perhaps I’m getting (even more) irritable in my old age, but more and more I find myself cringing at excessive expositional dialogue. It may not always be the case, but I like to think that comic book readers are an intelligent and intuitive bunch, making clunky fact-establishing dialogue a little jarring. As a veteran of creating his own universes and mythologies, Robert Kirkman knows the right balance of give and take when it comes to expositional dialogue.
Oblivion Song 4 opens where the last issue left off — when Oblivion resident Keith meets up with other survivors to show them Nathan’s special “transpo-darts” that take them back to Earth. Keith wants to join with them in exchange for his intel on Nathan, but Maria — the de facto leader of the group — makes it clear that they don’t trust him.
Here Kirkman establishes two things: 1) that Keith is the suspected killer of his wife and daughter and 2) while Oblivion is full of beasts and predators, the idea of “Faceless Men” is seen like crazy talk. While Maria is repeating something that everyone in the scene likely already knows, it’s done in a confrontational way. Just like a heated political debate, Maria is repeating a fact as a reminder and an indictment. “Why should I trust a murderer?”
Another example comes in the Duncan/Bridget scenes.
Both times that we see Duncan he is clearly suffering mentally — first with night terrors, then by being completely absent from a conversation Bridget is having with him.
Later Bridget confesses to Nathan that things are getting worse with Duncan, but doesn’t needlessly reiterate what the “things” are and why they’re getting worse.
Duncan’s defining characteristic in Oblivion Song thus far is that he survived Oblivion and has been suffering from PTSD ever since. Kirkman doesn’t waste time rehashing the plot and for this, I respect the man.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?